First Posted: 8/29/2014
Not long after Shavertown’s Patrick McGrath signed a one-year contract with the Wheeling Nailers in July, he set his sights on another goal.
McGrath, who spent his mornings this summer working out with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ strength and conditioning coach Joe Lorincz at the Toyota Sportsplex, hoped for the chance to show his stuff at the Pittsburgh Penguins rookie tournament held each September in Canada.
McGrath will get that opportunity as his name was among the 24 that Pittsburgh invited to participate in the tournament. The roster was announced on Aug. 28 and several players familiar to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans, including defensemen Scott Harrington, Reid McNeill and Brian Dumoulin along with forwards Tom Kuhnhackl, Adam Payerl, Dominik Uher and Anton Zlobin.
But McGrath, 21, is the only one with hometown roots.
“It’s an honor and I’m thankful,” he said. “I’m excited about the experience I’ll get from just playing with these types of players.”
The tournament runs from Sept. 13-16 and includes three games that will pit Penguins prospects against players from the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes and assistant coach Alain Nasreddine will oversee the tournament, which will be played at Budweiser Gardens, home of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.
McGrath, who had 176 penalty minutes in 45 games with Wheeling last year, will provide a physical presence on the roster.
But that’s not all.
McGrath has spent the summer honing other elements of his game and he’s currently in Long Beach Island, NY working with power skating instructor Jacki Munzel.
Fighting and physical play will always be key elements to McGrath’s game, but he wants to use the tournament to show he is a more well-rounded player.
“I’m excited to get started. You work all summer for an opportunity like this and it’s great to be able to show it in an actual game,” McGrath said.
Now that a contract for next season and an invite to the rookie tournament are achieved, McGrath’s next goal is to earn an invite to an AHL training camp, preferably with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
If it happens, it will likely be as much of a surprise as when McGrath learned he was going to the rookie tournament.
“I was at my house and (Pittsburgh assistant general manager) Jason Botterill called and said they wanted me to attend the tournament,” he said. “Until then, I had been talking with my agent and didn’t know where I was going to go.”